Hello, friends! Did you remember I have a blog? Yeah? Then you’re one step ahead of me because clearly I forgot.
Actually, the truth is I have wanted to be here and I have been desperately aching to tell you about the ways God’s been at work in me this summer, and about what He’s continuing to teach me about friendship and church and love and grace. But the funny thing about those stories is that they found their way into a book, and that’s where I think they’re meant to be.
At the beginning of September, I put the last period on the last essay and I sent it to my editor-friend, and she was way more encouraging than I deserve, and now we’re polishing essays and shifting chapters around and creating together a better story than the one I set out to tell.
Lord, bless the editor for she shall inherit the earth. And if not the earth, at least she’ll inherit a percentage of whatever money this book makes and all the credit in the world for making me a better writer.
So then, September became about celebrating. My friends threw me a submission party, and we toasted what’s been finished and prayed for what comes next. They are good friends, these people of mine, and it helps me push forward knowing that whatever comes, they will be there and there will be champagne.
My best pal from college flew in for a week, and we celebrated our September birthdays together. We went camping and to the Renaissance Festival, and had dinners with my hometown friends every night. We ate ice cream every day and enjoyed the sweetness of our friendship. In a lot of ways we’ve changed, but in a lot of other ways we’re still the same kids that shared a bunk bed in a dorm room and wondered what we’d be like when we grew up. I pray this stays true when we’re celebrating our 81st birthdays together.
Then last weekend, I turned 31 and we celebrated again. At my friend’s lake house, there was no cake, but there was plenty of pork barbecue. And there was singing, and boating, and laughing, and all of the things that go into the building of friendships. There was lots of time to read and play games, and nothing was rushed. We lingered over meals, and stayed up when were tired, and we enjoyed time together. I guess we all kind of organically realized the luxury of casting off the responsibilities of the world for a couple of days just to go out and play. And I think that was the best birthday present ever.
In the midst of all the celebrating, I stole off to my grandparents for a few days. I slept and read and ate on endless loop, and it was wonderful. Their town is small and quiet, and doesn’t offer much in the way of activity. When I was teenager, I didn’t much get the appeal of this kind of place. Why would you want to live somewhere that doesn’t even have a Starbucks? But, I get it now. I get it because I want it – that kind of slow, unrushed existence. The kind of life where you get to know your neighbors, and there’s not a lot of traffic, and you can walk into town. The kind of life where you can sit on a porch and watch the world go by, and that means you’re noticing the squirrels are burying nuts under the tree in the front yard and the sparrows are soaking up the last few warms days in the birdbath before winter sets in. The kind of life where you don’t feel like you have to be anywhere, because all that you need is right there where you are. Yeah, I want that.
Because of the time at the lake and the time at my grandparents, I had time to read and it was glorious. I read some not-great novels, but I also read memoirs that I’d been aching to get to for a long time.
Jen Hatmaker’s Interrupted was one I was glad that I didn’t get to earlier, because I wouldn’t have understood her heart in it the way that I do now. I understand what it is to be active in ministry and church and too look all spiritually together, and then have God tap your heart and say, “Hey, remember me?” I understand the prayers of desperation that come when you leave a place of busyness to get back to remembering, and I understand what it is to read the Scripture and have it reveal something new about God and His will for your life. I understand what it is to make some decisions in the newness that leave people scratching their heads. And I understand what it is when Jesus comes in and wrecks your comfortable Christianity. To say that I appreciated this book would be an understatement.
I also read Barbara Brown Taylor’s “An Altar in the World,” and loved, loved, loved it. Taylor is a great writer, and she is wise and insightful in ways I can only dream to be. She shares her own faith experience, saturates it in the Bible, and allows the reader a fresh perspective on some old stories. For example, the story of Abraham and Sarah, while about the ways God make good out of bad, is also a story about two people who consent to follow:
The Bible gives no reason for God’s choice of Abraham and Sarah except their willingness to get lost. They were not young. They were not spiritual giants. All they really had going for them was their willingness to set off on a divinely inspired trip without a map, equipped with nothing but God’s promise to be with them. Most Sunday school teachers stop there, but if you follow Abraham and Sarah all the way to Egypt and back, you get the kind of details that mark genuine wilderness time…Ostensibly, none of this would have happened if Abraham and Sarah had just thanked God for the interesting travel suggestion and said no, they thought they’d just stay home in Ur where they belonged. By saying yes instead – by consenting to get lost – they selected a family gene that would become dominant in years to come (pgs. 73 -74).
And I’ll tell you right now, as someone who is struggling with an intense desire to be on an adventure with Jesus with no real clear idea of what she means when she says that, this passage not only resonates with me, but also led me back to a familiar Bible story with eyes looking for those details that mark a genuine wilderness time. And so, I’m asking myself the questions – when is it time to get lost? And what does that look like?
I don’t have answers, but I’m enjoying this season of living into the questions.
When I was book writing, I didn’t listen to a lot of new music. I stuck with my favorites – Audrey Assad, Paul Simon, Damien Rice, and hymns heavy with piano. But, I also fell in love with Ellie Holcomb and her guitar and her lyrics. She’s also now on regular rotation.
I was glad that book-writing coincided with summer-hiatus, so I didn’t miss the start to the new show season and so I didn’t watch TV instead of working, which is all to say that I didn’t watch a ton of stuff this summer. Although, I *really* hate to admit that one night (when I couldn’t sleep because I was too busy stressing about some crap about platform, which is such a waste of a writer’s time), I totally binged on FYI’s “Married at First Sight.” Go ahead and Google it, and then decide if you want to remain my friend. If you don’t, I totally understand. I’m not sure I want to be friends with me either.
Also, a friend texted me and told me I needed to watch this clip from Garfunkel and Oates, which I did, and then proceeded to laugh about for the next month. Heck, I’m still laughing. (They’re colorful, so ya know, language warning and all that.)
I think I’ll just leave it you with that. And with the promise that I’m back to blogging, hopefully this time with even more frequency. You are my people, and I have missed you.
(Once again, I’ve linked up with Leigh Kramer and her peeps. Pop over there to check out some other cool posts about what some other cool people are into this month. See you all for another fun round at the end of October.)